This year’s Spanish GP was all about strategy in the front run and Mercedes made the most out of it, yet again.
Max Verstappen was leading the race in front of both silver arrows, until the German team called Lewis Hamilton in for a second pit stop.
A decisive decision that gave him the chance to chase Verstappen’s Red Bull on fresh tyres and ultimately take the win.
But that was possible because the Brit came out of the pitlane right behind his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who let him through without much trouble after a team order.
Meanwhile Verstappen could only rely on his tyre management skills, as his teammate Sergio Perez was battling Ricciardo for the 5th position for over 40 laps of the Grand Prix.
"I think it's coming together for him," said Horner. "He had an off day and he was compromised in the race behind Daniel.”
On Saturday he suffered a shoulder problem and qualified only 8th.
"Obviously then he didn't manage to make headway at a track [where it is] so difficult to pass, because we desperately need him to be in that gap, so that Mercedes don't have the strategic options that they had.”
"I'm convinced that that will come for Checo as he finds more confidence and time in the car."
A very similar situation occurred in Hungary back in 2019 when the second driver for Redbull was Pierre Gasly, Horner recalled.
"The facts are very clear that obviously the two lead guys were so far ahead of the rest of the pack as it were, that Lewis had a free stop as he had in Hungary.”
"He only had to get past his teammate, and that was never going to be an issue. So that's why we need both cars up there strategically, so that option isn't available to Mercedes."